Base Metals Bring Down BHP Billiton Profit

12 August 2009 (Last Updated August 12th, 2009 18:30)

BHP Billiton reported a 62% fall in annual profit, triggered by a collapse in commodity prices and demand, while a return to the historical growth trend should not be expected in the immediate future, the company said. BHP Billiton said it was not insulated from the swift and economi

BHP Billiton reported a 62% fall in annual profit, triggered by a collapse in commodity prices and demand, while a return to the historical growth trend should not be expected in the immediate future, the company said.

BHP Billiton said it was not insulated from the swift and economic downturn but that the results demonstrated its strong performance as it took decisive action, such as halting its Rio Tinto takeover, in response to changing market conditions.

As spot prices fell between 50% and 90% in the first half of the period the company cut supply across its commodity suite by 5% to 25%, BHP said.

Costs increased by $2.5bn on the previous corresponding period due to the higher prices of fuel, energy and raw materials, the company said.

Lower sales volumes of base metals and manganese divisions reduced underlying earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) fell by $2.5bn and copper sales volumes were impacted by lower ore grade and reduced output from milling operations at Escondida.

The aluminium business was hit by lower London Metal Exchange (LME) prices and higher operating costs, reducing underlying EBIT by 86.9%.

Underlying EBIT of the stainless steel materials division saw a loss of $854m driven mainly by sharp decline in LME prices for nickel.

BHP declared a final dividend for the year of 41 cents per share, bringing the total dividend for the year to 82 cents a share.